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Should Dress Code Infractions Send You Home From Work?

Relating to the topic of cleavage at the office, TeamSugar member ilanac13 shared how her old company handled cracking down on their dress code and said,

"HR used to have to go around and monitor what people wore because clients would come to our offices all the time and there was a line that was being crossed on what was OK to see and what wasn't. They would send people home if they weren't dressed properly...or they would make you wear a long white t-shirt over your clothes which was just as embarrassing."

The white t-shirt thing seems really nutty to me! Picturing Human Resources putting XL Hanes White T-Shirts on their expense reports is a bit laughable. There wasn't a long t-shirt policy at my old job, but there were some interesting dress code related issues. Shortly after having ACL surgery, one of my colleagues came to the office in shorts because he couldn't fit pants over his large cast. They were knee-length, roomy shorts that weren't offensive to anyone, except the CEO who sent him home for disobeying the dress code — even though the guy cleared his shorts with HR before coming back to work.

Between the experiences of ilanic13 and my own, it seems that sending an employee home is something that some HR departments find useful. Do you think it's an appropriate action?

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citizenkane citizenkane 9 years
ok,....my smiley faces are supposed to be giving each other high fives. They look dirty to me. Or maybe I just need to get my mind out of the gutter.....
citizenkane citizenkane 9 years
Wow, discocactus. Very well put!! :highfive:
discocactus discocactus 9 years
It depends on the job, and how important the dress code is. If you're working a lot with the public (say in retail) and your company has a "look" it's trying to project and what you're wearing is part of that, then it might be appropriate to send people home. Otherwise, in an office where there may not be a lot of interaction with customers then maybe a discussion is all that's needed. As for the open-toe shoe thing, that's usually a health-code/safety issue. Personally, I think looking professional is important and that a lot of people just don't get it. It isn't all about *you* and your needs and comfort but also what's best for those around you. We live in a society and many times *you* may have to suffer for the good of the group. This seems to be something people don't get overall anymore in our age of rampant individualism. Please, let's move beyond the "it's not hurting anyone" mentality.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
I actually do not mind dress codes. Unfortunately, they are needed because there are so many people that lack common sense about what is appropriate work attire. While I do work for a a company where it is not uncommon to see people running around in their workout clothes however most have the common sense to change into work appropriate clothing. One place my Mom worked actually had to bring an entire department together to tell grown women that belly shirts were not appropriate work attire and now they send people home who are not dressed work appropriate. To me it pathetic that people have to be told what professional is.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
It depends on the situation, and whether or not, for instance, the employee is someone who has to meet with clientele and therefore truly needs to present themselves in the correct fashion for the company, but really--dressing appropriately for one's work environment is just part of being professional and mature. It's not even really about style, just appropriateness. Although there are lines that employers shouldn't cross, too. It shouldn't be about style or what a boss thinks looks good, just about professionalism and aesthetic courtesy.
citizenkane citizenkane 9 years
Everywhere I've worked has had a dress code. And honestly, I don't think they are trying to be mean, they just want everyone to look professional, (they have all been professional offices: law firm, real estate, etc.). Some days women would walk in wearing spagetti straps or fip flops. It blows my mine what some people consider work appropriate. Sometimes I will push the limits by wearing colored jeans or knee-high boots, but it was always business appropriate. Frankly, I think I look better than all of the women who wear their eleastic waist black pants and chunky slides everyday. ;)
mjane79 mjane79 9 years
It depends on what it is. Where I work, we don't have a dress code and some people dress a little too casually. One woman also wears mini skrits that are way too short, especially for her age. She's in her 40s and looks like she shares her teenage daughter's closet. She's worn shirts that don't quite meet the top of her jeans, very thing, almost sheer t-shirts that you can see her bra through, things like that. We also have some guys that show up sometimes in hodded sweatshirts. We work in the office of a manufacturing plant. The office is a seperate building from the plant. I don't have a problem with being casual since it is a dirty environment inside the plant. I wear jeans and a plain t-shirt most days in the spring and fall. Sometimes I'll wear a tank top in the summer, but they have wide straps and aren't low cut. I add interesting necklaces and shoes to try and make it a little more dressy. Our corporate office has a dress code of no jeans and no t-shirts, among other rules, and will send you home. No jeans is fine but I don't know on the no t-shirts. If I wear a plain, just a colored t-shirt with khakis and nice shoes and jewelry I don't see how that's any different than someone wearing khakis and a polo, which is allowed. Dress codes can be hard things to enforce since part of it is so subjective.
nextjen nextjen 9 years
We have a dress code where I work now, which is much more strict (in the middle east), but they would never send you home! I think it's more respectful to just give a warning. Sometimes it's tough to know how short is too short.
nextjen nextjen 9 years
This happened to me. I was expected to come back (it was at a call centre so not only would i lose pay for the time that I was gone, but if I didn't come back I would have risked entering a "corrective action plan" - which was step 1 to getting fired) but I wasted ten minutes crying (due to humiliation) in a nearby establishment's bathroom. They I called my boyfriend who brought me some jeans. I felt that if I were thinner, the skirt wouldn't have seemed as short. We were allowed to wear about two inches above the knee (one credit card width) and mine was OK, but they said "No way." I was devastated and I learned my lesson, but I think a simple "this is your first warning - next time we send you home!" would have sufficed. It was hard to come back into work and sit with my colleagues after having being sent away for an hour.
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
When I was working two jobs, I got called into my more formal job last minute during a crisis and didn't have time to go home and change from my jeans and T-Shit that I were fine at my more casual job. I was just getting out of one job and going immediately to another. My boss and HR understood. It was a crisis after all and they wanted me there no matter what. However, the catty comments from my co-workers made showing up so not worth the over time.
emalove emalove 9 years
I kind of think it's common sense as to what's appropriate to wear to work...if you're in doubt, then you should probably choose something else. Especially if you've worked at the company for awhile, you should know what's acceptable and what's not.
ladychaos ladychaos 9 years
Rosa, my mom used to work at a hospital for 20 years, and then worked for several laboratories before working for Pfizer. They have those codes because of pathogens: like if someone dropped a test tube, or if there was a chance of a spill or even contact with a bad substance, they'd want your feet, arms and legs not to be a risk. I definitely understand strict dress codes such as those. Also, the sleeveless thing may have something to do with some shirts exposing bras when someone lifts their arm. But yea, I think every job should explicitly state their dress code when an employee is hired. I work at Victoria's Secret, and they made sure they not only put the dress code in our handbook, but also in a little cheat sheet format so we know for sure what is and isn't appropriate to work (yes, you can wear variations of the black suit...).
kayla74 kayla74 9 years
I'm in HR (and young and hip), but I think some people don't think of who will be seeing them. It totally depends on the company you work for and the environment there is there. I always tell new hires "if you're unsure if you should wear it to work, don't wear it" but then again some people might think it's okay. My mom (who's also in HR) always says she doesn't want to see boobs, butt, bellies or backs. I think you should look at the majority of people who work there and follow their lead. If you have a big problem with adhering to the dress code, maybe you should find a company that lets you bend the rules more. I only have two things I insist upon wherever I work: I don't have to wear pantyhose (seriously, Texas is TOO HOT) and they don't make me cover up my small tattoo on the inside of my ankle.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
I work in a lab so I would be sent home if I broke the dress code rules. The type of shoes we wear is for our safety (no open toed shoes) so I wouldn't deliberately break that one....
satelit1 satelit1 9 years
No "blue" jeans are allowed, but all other colors of the rainbow as well as faded, old, ill-fitting jeans, are allowed. Flip flops and low cut as well as mini skirts and see-through are also allowed. Sneakers and tennis shoes are allowed by people claiming that they are "disabled" = overweight....... One is only reported when people spite them....
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 9 years
I personally despise dress codes and think that as long as you look presentable and are performing your job duties, who cares what you're wearing? I am SO happy that I can wear anything I want to my office. That being said, if an office DOES have a dress code, employees should follow it. It's that simple. But the office should keep the dress code rules well-documented and available to all employees. If you want to work there, you should follow the rules.
lizs lizs 9 years
I had a job for which attire was "suits only", and the jacket had to stay on even if you were invisibly in your cube, just in case someone stopped by (staff - this wasn't a customer-facing department). Obnoxious! Then again, the HR policies also specified that women were to own at least three pairs of shoes and alternate regularly, and my supervisor actually took exception with a (flat broke) new hire who wore the same shoes every day. (Men were required to own at least two pairs of shoes.) Yeah, I quit.
verily verily 9 years
We have no dress code here. While I have seen some questionable taste (wearing cat ears daily), nothing has been offensive. In the rare instances that someone came to work in something arguably inappropriate for even a dress code-less office (bare midriffs or bath robes), they're just asked to go home and change.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
What's funny about the white t-shirt story is that's the biggest complaint of our office manager: too casual. I think she'd rather have us flashing cleavage and too much leg than running around in sweats/t-shirts/jeans.
RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
I work in a hospital and a memo was circulated that open toed shoes were not allowed as well as sleevless shirts and women had to wear stockings when wearing skirts or dresses!!
shanimalcracker shanimalcracker 9 years
What a lot of you guys are saying is so true; a lot of workplaces do seem to say what they expect in terms of work attire when you are first hired. The way my firm put it was not to wear "beach clothes" or clothes that show off too much. I somehow think that is enough guidance and I haven't seen anyone have problems abiding to it.
mlen mlen 9 years
my work has a dress code and for the most part i follow it- but certain things i don't. for instance they say no open toed shoes. but really a lot of my dressy sandals are opened toed in the summer. but they are dresy- not flip flops, so i wear them. i also wear no stockings in the summer- i hate stockings, i am young so my legs are ok, and my skirts all come to my knees so its not like i'm flashing a ton of leg!
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
The company I used to work for (a german grocery store cough cough), in the main office, was filled with sixteen women in one room. When they hired me, I learned that the woman I replaced had only been there a few months. Over time, I learned that she was a large breasted woman who would try to wear the appropriate dress code but was always busting out of a shirt. It got to the point, where the other women would bring in their husband's t-shirts and demand the woman to change into the tee while at work.
heineken67 heineken67 9 years
I actually wish my employer would crack down on our dress code a little more. I don't see why I can't wear my nice trouser jeans on days I'm not seeing patients, while the front desk staff at the clinic can wear swishy track pants any day.
syako syako 9 years
I just thought of this, I remember one time I was unsure if we were able to wear jeans on a Friday (it changes week to week, unfortunately) so I wore them and threw a professional skirt in the trunk in case someone said something. Point being, most of the time you know when you could be in the wrong (I hope!) and two, bring something else just in case so you won't have to go home and/or feel uncomfortable all day long.
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